Friday, June 26, 2009

Federal Transportation Funding Overhaul Delayed: Ripples Will Be Felt Here

Plenty of state highway and transit programs will remain funded, but expansions will be in limbo for at least 18 months if the White House opts to set aside creating the next five-year omnibus transportation funding bill.

These bills are often delayed and the highway trust fund gets patched with spot appropriations, but it will make it harder for Wisconsin to plan, with assurance, the financing of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Freeway expansion, for example.

And that's a good thing: maybe saner people and plans will scale that behemoth back, starting with the wasteful added lanes in both the I-94 north-south leg from Milwaukee to the Illinois state line, and the $2.3 abomination also known as the Zoo Interchange project.

The Zoo Interchange project will destroy homes and businesses, congest the state's most-utilized interchange for close to a decade, and trash the state's plan - - does the left hand know what the right hand is up to here? - - to build an engineering college for UW-M right in the middle of the mess/interchange project.

But the state seems hell-bent on pushing the Zoo Interchange forward without the funds in hand or on the horizon to pay for it, thus pleasing Republican voters in Waukesha County who want to shave 20 seconds off their daily commutes.

Eventually. Perhaps. And perhaps not, since widenings attract usage and induce more congestion.

I'm still waiting for a call back from WisDOT about why they chose to muzzle some of the critics at a hearing last week.

A call to the spokesman at the WisDOT regional office that sponsored the hearing was referred to the agency headquarters in, which I called, but with no call back yet.

Allegations by the muzzled critics are here.

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